Eagles Pull Out Huge, 59-55, Road Win Over A-Sun Rival Stetson
Saturday, January 21, 2012 | by Mike Hill (mike_hill84)
Florida Gulf Coast (17-2 (9-0 A-SUN))
Stetson (16-5 (7-2 A-SUN))
1/21/2012 | DeLand, Fla. (Edmunds Center) | Attendance: 642
Florida Gulf Coast283159
Stats at a GlanceFGCUSTET
FG Percentage.283 (17-60) .500 (20-40)
3P FG Percentage.226 (7-31) .364 (4-11)
FT Percentage.818 (18-22) .846 (11-13)
Offensive Rebounds195
Defensive Rebounds1627
Total Rebounds3532
Bench Points55
Statistical LeadersFGCUSTET
PointsCHIHIL - 15
ReboundsHANSEN - 9
TEAM - 9
AssistsHANSEN - 3
SIMS - 3
StealsCHIHIL - 6
SIMS - 2
BlocksHANSEN - 2
SIMS - 3

DELAND, Fla. – Senior Courtney Chihil (Tipp City, Ohio/Alter HS) scored a game-high 15 points as the FGCU women's basketball team snapped Stetson’s 12-game home winning streak by picking up an important, 59-55, win over the Hatters at the Edmunds Center on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, FGCU improves to 17-2 overall (9-0 A-Sun), while the Hatters fall to 16-5 (7-2 A-Sun) on the season. The Eagles, who dealt Stetson their first home defeat since they fell 80-62 to ETSU on Feb. 5, 2011, now have a two-game lead over the second place Hatters in the A-Sun standings entering the second half of conference play and are off to their best start to open A-Sun competition in program history (9-0).

FGCU, the nation’s leader in three-point field goals per game (11.9), knocked down just 7-of-31 (22.6 percent) shots from behind the arc. Four different players made at least one trey for the Green and Blue, led by Eglah Griffin’s (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar HS/Seminole CC) 3-of-7 night.

The Eagles picked up the victory despite recording season-lows in both field goal percentage (17-of-60; 28.3 percent) and three-point percentage (7-of-31; 22.6 percent).

“Sometimes you aren’t going to shoot the ball very well,” said head coach Karl Smesko. “Give Stetson credit though, because they guarded us very well. We just had to clamp down and play some defense and fight to get points in other ways, whether it was at the foul line or at the front of the rim. Fortunately we made enough plays down the stretch to get the job done.”

Chihil scored 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field and 7-of-7 from the charity stripe, while also adding six rebounds and six steals. Griffin chipped in with 12 points and two steals. Senior Kelsey Jacobson (Barnesville, Minn./Moorhead HS), the active NCAA leader and A-Sun all-time leader in career three-pointers made (308), finished with 10 points, three boards and a pair of assists. Redshirt-sophomore Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) added nine points, nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal.

Shanasa Sanders led Stetson with 14 points and eight boards in the loss. Sasha Sims and the reigning A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year Victoria McGowan each pitched in with 13 points.

After trailing at halftime for just the third time this season, FGCU outscored the Hatters 15-8, highlighted by eight points from Chihil, over the final 4:49 of the game to pull out the 59-55 win. Jacobson’s 15-foot jumper from the elbow with 1:54 left in the game proved to be the game’s deciding basket.

The Green and Blue tied the game at 47-47 (5:25) after Chihil finished a three-point play. Stetson quickly responded when Ashley Dennis drained a trey from the corner to give the Hatters a 50-47 lead with under five minutes left in regulation.

A quick 4-0 spurt from FGCU (a pair of free-throws from Griffin and a layup from Chihil) put the Eagles ahead 51-50 (3:20). McGowan buried a pair of shots from the charity stripe on SU’s next possession to give Stetson a 52-51 lead with nearly three minutes left on the clock.

Jacobson caught the ball on the left wing, gave a shot fake that got her defender in the air and calmly drained a 15-foot jumper to put the Eagles up for good at 53-52 (1:54). After Stetson failed to retake the lead on Sims’ shot, Chihil scored one of her three old fashioned three-point plays of the second half to push the Green and Blue to a 56-52 advantage with 1:01 remaining.

McGowan answered with a layup and free-throw on the next SU possession to bring Stetson within one (56-55; 00:51), but the FGCU defense would not allow the Hatters to get another shot off. The Eagles, who have now defeated a trio of defending conference champs this season (Michigan State – Big Ten; UCF – Conference USA; Stetson – Atlantic Sun), forced Stetson into five turnovers in the final 2:43 and hit 4-of-5 shots from the charity stripe over the last 1:01 of the contest to seal the victory.

FGCU will now return home to host Mercer and Kennesaw State. FGCU will take on the Bears on Jan. 26 (7:05 p.m.), before welcoming the Owls to Alico Arena on Jan. 28 (7:30 p.m.).